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Five Raiders to watch against Tennessee Titans

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Jalen Richard will get his first chance to shine Saturday night. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Jalen Richard is one of five Raiders to watch Saturday against the Titans. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

OAKLAND — On a roster that entered training camp fairly settled, the Raiders’ Saturday night tilt with the Tennessee Titans is the last chance for some players to make an impression.

Rosters will get cut from 90 players to 75 on Tuesday, a precursor to the more difficult drop to the 53-man roster following the final preseason game.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he plans to play the starters at least for the first half and possibly into the third quarter against Tennessee, so those roster battles will take place mostly in the fourth quarter. 

Game planning for this one has been minimal with the Raiders slated to see the Titans a month later in Week 3 of the regular season.

“You always put a plan together, so technically you’re doing some portion of it,” Del Rio said of game planning. “Knowing that we’re going to play them early in the year, it was a little bit of understanding what you like and thoughts you had — more a collection of that. In terms of trying to let it all air out in Week 3, it’s not really a sound approach.”

The key, instead, will be for the Raiders to show their physicality. Neither team will likely display any exotic blitz packages or go-to offensive plays. But there’s still the opportunity to beat the man across the line on any given play and the Raiders would like to show they can win those battles.

Here are five Raiders to keep an eye on Saturday:

Running back Jalen Richard

The hype train riding this undrafted free agent back has gotten a little out of control.

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave raved about all the “spectacular” things Richard was doing in practice before he injured his knee and had to miss the first two preseason games. It’s true that Richard flashed in the early weeks of camp as much or more than anybody, but the real test of a running back comes in live action and he’s yet to see that.

The Raiders plan to give him — and DeAndre Washington — time with the first-team offensive line to get an accurate evaluation of both. That’s a big opportunity to cement Richard’s roster status.

Safety Nate Allen

Allen has had a knack for making plays in the preseason for the Raiders. He has seven tackles, an interception and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown thus far this year and had a two-interception game last year in the third exhibition.

The veteran doesn’t project as a starter assuming the secondary stays healthy, but he probably will start Saturday with Reggie Nelson nursing an undisclosed injury. The big test is what Allen will do in the regular season, but continue solid preseason play boosts the confidence in the Raiders depth at safety.

Wide receiver Seth Roberts

It may have just been a ploy to push the young receiver a little, but Del Rio said earlier this week that Roberts was “being pushed.” It’s hard to imagine the team’s returning No. 3 receiver being in danger of not sticking around — especially with the rest of the receiving corps below him doing little to make an impact — but Roberts could probably use a big game Saturday to show he’s ready to take another leap.

Linebacker Ben Heeney

The starting middle linebacker struggled in Green Bay against the Packers’ physical run game, bringing up questions about if his 6-foot, 231-pound frame can handle the position. It came three days after he got dinged up in practice, but he said, “I was out there playing, so I was good.”

The Raiders are putting a lot of trust in him and teammates have praised Heeney and are confident in him at that role. A strong game against the Titans’ run-heavy attack would help ease some concerns as the season draws nearer.

Quarterback Derek Carr

There’s no reason to be concerned about Carr and the starting offense’s inability to find the end zone thus far. It will happen and this is preseason.

But if they are going to play another half or more of football this week, it sure would be nice to see Carr and his receivers connect a few more times and move down the field for a touchdown. The Raiders’ offense may be vanilla, but they won’t be facing a mint chip defense so it’s time to find the end zone, at least once.

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Jimmy Durkin

Sports writer for the Bay Area News Group, covering the Raiders.

  • DanfromVegas

    The first Denver game we also lost because of Carr

  • RaidingTexas

    Bugs & other WB were the best by far. You can still watch a lot of those shows here:

    http://www.cartoonson.com/

  • PodunkRaider (aka RRS)

    you know some dude made that in his garage for $5 and sold it to you for $50, right?

  • Steveopa

    I am just saying is it true or false the flag is over 200 years old yes or no. Was every American treated equal since the flag was created?

  • R8der4evr

    The biggest issue is 750 mill
    Unheard of, regardless of if its from hotel tax that money is needed elsewhere
    Mark loses again, he needs to put his pad and pencil down firmly here in Oakland
    Has he ever?

  • R8RCatDave

    New family moved in across the street, don’t think we are gonna get along

  • Steveopa

    I am not saying I agree with him not standing for the flag I am saying I understand his stance. That is this country’s problem whether you agree with someone’s views or not doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to understand them.

  • R8der4evr

    Yup
    And although I don’t want it the NFL may force us to Santa Clara like you have been saying
    Wish they would have earlier
    Half S&B with our museum
    Half red and gold with their museum
    Only 8-10 games a year, why Oakland is spinning wheels

  • DanfromVegas

    The dude doesn’t get it. There is a legitimate debate to be had about whether or not black people and minorities are treated differently under the law and in society, but dissing the national anthem only hardens one’s adversaries. His actons will only weaken his cause.

  • do these work regular season all games?

  • r8dercain

    Snaking draft